How To Work Your Way Up The Management Chain

April 12, 2015

management positionLet’s say you want to be promoted to a management position. So you work hard and exceed everyone’s expectations. Do you get promoted? Probably not.

To get promoted to management, you have to do all the stereotypical things: kiss ass, smooze and booze, etc. Doing a good job isn’t enough.

Why isn’t doing a good job enough? Because it is expected of everyone to do a good job. That’s why they hired you. So if you met deadlines, performed well, went above and beyond expectations, the only reward for that is a slightly bigger raise or bonus at the end of the year. Good job performance doesn’t really mean a promotion. You’re not the only one doing a good job. Almost everyone else at the company is doing a decent job.

What you need to do is expose yourself to upper management. This means you need to be known by your bosses and your bosses’ bosses. You just have to be where your bosses are. Here are some ways to create more exposure:

  • Invite people in upper management to have a luxurious lunch or dinner with you.
  • Go to all the company sponsored functions like happy hour, parties, charity events, etc.
  • Join company committees or groups.
  • Throw parties of your own and invite people.
  • Just be more social.

Naturally, just being seen by upper management isn’t enough. You have to talk to them and get rapport with them. So if your social skills suck, improve them. It doesn’t take that much effort or time to bring up social skills—even if you’re a hardcore introvert.

If you can joke around with upper management, have a good time, and they like you; then you’re in. It may be difficult to drop your “professional face” and be real in front of the CEO-level people, but it’s possible.

A more “dirty” tactic is to figure out what the hobbies of your bosses are. Then pick up that hobby and join them in it. Also try dressing the same style as them. You need to emulate them to be part of them. It’s the whole, “if you want the part, you gotta look the part” cliche.

Whatever happened to just old-fashioned hard work to get to the top? Just doing your job well and hoping someone will notice you isn’t going to cut it. Like I said, your reward for hard work will be monetary. If you want to get promoted to management level, you have to start doing more than just good, hard work.

It’s tough to swallow and it’s easy to deny it. But this is one of the rules of the game. And if you want to get to the top, this is how you play the game.

Honestly, this is probably why a lot of managers seem stupid. It’s because they weren’t the most technically competent people around. They just knew how to talk to people.

Also, maybe it’s better that a people-person be a manager. They would have the qualities to deal with people better. Although just being a people person might not be enough. Here are some other qualities I think are needed to be an effective leader.